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Detroit father deported to Mexico after 30 years in U.S.

Last Updated Jan 17, 2018 10:18 AM EST

DETROIT -- A 39-year-old Detroit man who had lived in the U.S. for nearly 30 years has been deported to Mexico. Jorge Garcia came to the U.S. with his family when he was 10 years old and has long sought legal status. Garcia, who worked as a landscaper and had no criminal record, was deported on Monday and can't return to the U.S. for a decade. 

His wife and two children, who are all U.S. citizens, hugged him and sobbed as they said goodbye at the airport, the Detroit News reported.

His wife, Cindy Garcia, vows to keep fighting to bring her husband back, but he could be barred from returning to the U.S. for 10 years.

"My husband was here illegally and that was the only crime he committed at 10 years old. I understand that I am an American citizen and that our borders need to be protected against terrorists, but my husband is not a terrorist. My husband is not a drug dealer. He is not a criminal," she told CBS News.

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Jorge Garcia hugs his family goodbye at the Detroit airport before being deported to Mexico.

MICHIGAN UNITED

Jorge Garcia learned he'd been scheduled to be deported in November as part of the Trump administration's immigration crackdown. A request from Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Dearborn pushed back the deportation date to allow Garcia to spend the holidays with his family.

Even before the Trump administration called for an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, Garcia was too old to qualify. When DACA took effect in 2012, applicants had to be age 31 or under.

Immigrant advocates say deporting people like Garcia separates families without serving the national interest.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement Tuesday that a judge ordered Garcia to leave the country in June 2006. When Garcia appealed the decision in 2008, ICE said, his case was sent to a lower court which allowed him to voluntarily leave the country.

ICE said Garcia became the "subject to a final order of removal" in 2009 after he failed to depart. "ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion on multiple prior occasions in Mr. Garcia-Martinez's case in 2011, 2012 and 2014," the statement said.